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Your Business

News/Business. A focus on issues facing small business in the United States.

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  MSNBC    Your Business    News/Business. A focus on issues  
   facing small business in the United States.  

    February 3, 2013
    4:30 - 4:59am PST  

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they're second-generation entrepreneurs running their businesses with a little help if their parents. how do you do that and keep family spats out of the mix? the answer coming up next in "your business."
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hi there, everyone, i'm jj ramberg and welcome to "your business" the show dedicated to giving you tips and advice to helping your small business grow. seven years ago, i started a company with my brother. before that, my brother had started a company with my mom. and my dad worked with his father. our entrepreneurial ventures have had a lot of family connections. for us, it works. but it doesn't for everyone. tensions can run high as feelings get in the way of business. meet two entrepreneurs who have enlisted the help of their parents and together they figured out their own ways to
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balance the slippery slope of working with family. owning a clothing boutique was always janine harvey's dream. >> this is what i like ultimately want to do with my life. >> in 2011, at the age of 21, she opened alchemy hour boutique in new jersey with help from her parents. but this help wasn't a hand-out, it was a business agreement. >> i really wanted to treat them as investors and not just my parents giving me money. i took that as a loan from my parents. and we set up a plan to kind of pay back along the way. >> her parents, helen and john harvey. saw janine as a smart investment. she had always shown a love for fashion. and after realizing college wasn't a right fit, janine proved she had a natural knack in retail as a manager of a nearby clothing store. >> this is brilliant. because here instead of me shelling out hundreds of
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thousands of dollars, i'm shelling out less than one semester. >> there are obvious perks to having your biggest supporters as your investors. >> you're able to have the conversations where you're saying, oh, we're planning on this, and that's why i can't pay this amount back right now. but i can pay it back then. and with a normal investor, they would say, well that's too bad. you need to pay that back. >> at the beginning, everything was a team effort. with janine's mother, helen, there for every step of the way. and helen is an employee in every sense of the world. >> my mom works there 40 hours a week, she should get paid for 40 hours of labor. you learn something that it costs something to have people working here and you make good decisions as a result of that. >> i didn't get an official resumé, i'm still waiting for that. >> i'm a little late, i'm not very punctual. >> when reg was ready to build a
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team for his business, infusion sciences in crofton, maryland, he didn't have to look far. >> he knew i had a the business background. >> to start from scratch and hire someone who i had no clue what their business background was, wouldn't be so smart. >> linda goes by her first name in doing business. >> working together, it's easier if he refers to me as business. >> really? budge could call her something else as well. >> i think it's more linda as senior director. as opposed to mom. >> linda, who is an entrepreneur in her own right, having founded a line of skin care, admits it's tough to not always be mom. >> he's my child, he's my son, and i see that probably first. even though we're here to do business and we do business. we focus on business. but he's my son. >> budge hired linda because he knew they had complementary skills. >> i believe formulating products, making current products better.
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that's really my strong suit. >> he's more the scientist. he's methodical. and i'm mouthy and all over the place. >> i'm a little bit laid back. if i weren't, we'd probably -- >> kill each other. >> the pairing has proven successful with youth infusion, an all-natural multivitamin powder formula. >> my mother knows how to deal with buyers. she had the proper guidance i probably would need to get a product onto the shelves of a store. >> i have a lot of contacts from the past and i kind of know the ropes. what you need to do with manufacturing and what has to be done. >> youth infusion is now sold on the company's website and at retailers like the vitamin shop. while budge and linda don't hide their family ties, it's not front and center in their conversation. but they do blog about it on their website. they admit that working with family isn't always easy. >> you don't want to bring in family because they're family. you may have an awkward family party next time you go to one.
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>> hate to have to fire them. >> but they say, it can also be entertaining. >> i have my certain ways of doing things. and linda has her ways of doing things and because she's -- >> i'm right. i'm always right. >> she's always right. even though when she's wrong, she's right. >> i'm not wrong. didn't i teach you better than that. >> they say that around business, they try to not take things personally. >> with business, i don't hold back, no, i'm very honest. >> the one of the keys to success of course in anything is communication. so if you have something on your mind, you probably need to verbalize it. >> the harveys also know firsthand that working with family isn't a walk in the park. >> there are moments when we aren't able to separate those relationships and are taking things very personally. >> this led to one fight in particular where janine even tried to fire her mom. >> she actually just refused to leave. and told me that she wasn't going anywhere. she wasn't leaving the store. it was good, because i think that i would be really lost if she had taken me firing her
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seriously. so we were able to kind of just both get away from the situation for a little bit and then come back and talk about what happened. >> one lesson learned was that at the end of the day, janine is the one in charge. >> a lot of times i'll come and i'll say, hey, what do you think about this? and she'll say, no, that's not the look i want. i've come to really respect with her vision is. >> and linda agrees,or she says her son's the boss and because of that, their relationship works. >> it's his company, his product, he formulated it and he does know what he's doing. he's very smart or i wouldn't be in business with him. i'm taking the back seat. i work for him and i work cheap. running a successful business can be hard enough without having your mom breathing down your neck. these two business owners seem to have found the balance, though. let's come to this week's board of directors to see what they
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think. luke williams is the executive director of the berkeley center for entrepreneurship and innovation at new york university's sterns school of business and norm bradsky is the founder of eight successful businesses, including a few he ran with family members, he's now an "inc. magazine" columnist. i work with my brother and i would not partner with anyone else. we have such a good relationship because i trust him and he trusts me. because we are family members. you, though, norm, you had a different experience? >> i've had two experiences, the first one with was my brother-in-law who i eventually had to fire and it caused a rift in the family for 20 years. so that's the bad part. the second was with my wife, who worked with me for also 20 years and helped me build a pretty successful business. >> based on these two experiences, what advice do you have for people who want to go into business with their family? >> in the end, i will tell you my two daughters have been told they can't go into any of my businesses, i'll help them out with money going further but it
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has to do in the piece we just saw, it has to do with respect. if you have that respect for each other, it can work out. >> and so how do you build that respect? how do you know going in that you have the respect that will not only be within the family, as family members, but will transcend into running a business together? >> i think respect is really important. but i also think there's a flip side to that with is it can be dangerous. entrepreneurs are the worse at falling in love with their own ideas. and the problem with getting family members involved, is what we sometimes call the mum effect. your ideas are great. and you're cute, too. they love everything you do. i think there can be too much respect for other people's ideas and the strength of those ideas. so it's critical to actually find a mentor or a board of advisers that have nothing to do with the family and they're really going to tell you your idea stinks, if it stinks.
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>> and they can be the mediators as well if something happens. >> running a business is difficult enough, when you bring in the extra thing of having family, this extra layer of things, it makes it more difficult. and i mean i enjoyed working with my wife for 20 years, i have to say that but i don't think, it's just more difficult. if your business is established, maybe it's another thing. but it adds another layer that you don't need. >> what i found that has worked so well with me is that there are some things that my brother ken is very good at. and he's better at those than i am. so we can have conversations about it, but i really, i turn to him for those things, on the flip side, there are some things that i'm better at and he understands that, too, so so we have skills that complement each other. >> the important thing is that you have a family member there and they're in authority, no the to disrespect them. if you're going to have a disagreement, don't do it in front of everybody. our office is glass, so the only place we can have a discussion, believe it or not, is in the
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bathroom. so my wife and i go in there and we have our heated discussions, if there are any, in that environment where nobody sees it. and we come out as one unit, together. so i think that's important. to see in the employees to see. >> and it's, true, i also think your employees don't want to feel or other partners that you are ganging up, you will always stick together because you are family. they want to know that you'll think individually as well. >> that's where i think clear roles and responsibilities come into play. having a clear structure and processes. we saw from the clip, i think the tendency with a family business because you're all sort of relaxed around each other is to get a bit relaxed on these things, you don't define the roles and responsibilities, you don't define the structure. thanks, guys. are you looking to get the most out of your online marketing efforts? here are five good social media habits you should consider adopting courtesy of inc..com. one, target the influencers,
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regioning 100 major posters can be more effective than getting 5,000 less influential followers. two, put a face to a name. always look up the details for new followers or people who retweet your posts, so you know who is interested in what you have to say. number three, respond. don't ignore criticism. show that you care enough to write back. four, schedule yourself. target your postings to hit prime viewing times like right after the workday starts or right before people leave for the day. don't forget to do this for multiple time zones. and number five. venture beyond twitter and facebook. keep an eye out for emerging social hotspots and check out sites like google plus or pinterest. which may be more effective depending on your subject matter. oftentimes, adding things to your business is easy. we have new ideas, we want more plies, new processes, there's always something new to include but our next guest says what you should be concentrating on is
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not adding, but subtracting. so kiss anything that's excessive, confusing or wasteful or hard to use, good-bye. matt may is the founder of edit innovation, an idea agency based in los angeles and is the author of a new book "the laws of subtraction." great do see you, matt. >> likewise, thank you. >> i love this segment because we're always trying to add new things and really when you're running a business, you have got to be more simple about things. and so i want to get into the things that you say you should kill off. rules. >> well, yeah. i think when you're a small business and if you're fortunate enough, you begin to grow rapidly. and you sort of revert back to the things that you perhaps learned when you were working for a bigger company. and i inadvertently start adding rules to control things and gain a sense of order around everything. and sometimes that just is not the right thing to do. because it sometimes stifles
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innovation and creativity in the very growth that you're after. >> one of the examples you give is vacation days, we're used to having rules around vacation days, i get two weeks, i turn it in, i get something back from my boss saying you can take it off. >> absolutely. a great example of a company that got rid of those kinds of rulings is netflix. all their workers were working at home and no one was tracking their hours working, but they were tracking their vacation days and sick days and the employees and associates said why are you doing that? it doesn't make any sense and management agreed and said good point, they got rid of vacation policy. now no one has to game the system. you just cover your work, make sure your manager knows and take as much time, any time you want to. >> that netflix power-point made its way around the internet. a lot of us saw it next one, information, what do you mean by limit the kind of information? >> i think sometimes you know we're, we're in a rush or we're trying to tell people everything
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there is to know about our product or service. what we inadvertently do is drown them in information. people do want specs and specifics, but if you give them too many, they'll turn their attention elsewhere. >> resources, this is another thing that might be counterintuitive. you think you want to give more resources to people so they can do their job better. >> yeah. and sometimes subtraction can mean not adding in the first place. a wonderful example out here on the west coast where i am is in and out burger. they've got the same menu, four items that they had when they began 60 years ago. so they've restrained themselves from adding that kind of resource, if you will. but they've allowed their customers, their consumers to add to the menu. there's a secret menu and it sort of creates this mystique, they only have one rule -- you know, back to the notion of rules, we'll do anything you want to a burger. >> the book is "laws of subtraction."
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i think it is worth a read for anyone to just remind ourselves, take time off and get rid of stuff that is not necessary. matt may, thanks so much for joining us. still ahead, we'll answer your questions about how to franchise your business. and the difference in pricing for brick-and-mortar stores, versus online ventures. today's elevator picture wants to help your aching back by pushing that mean snow around with his snow bully. we've all had those moments. when you lost the thing you can't believe you lost. when what you just bought, just broke. or when you have a little trouble a long way from home... as an american express cardmember you can expect some help. but what you might not expect, is you can get all this
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with a prepaid card. spends like cash. feels like membership. today's elevator pitcher had a problem, how to shovel snow while dealing with disability. the solution is a product he hopes he can take to the snowbank. >> hi, i'm paul sterner, snowplow plus llc we've invented and we market the snow bully. an ecofriendly human-powered snowplow. there's some no's associated with the snow bully. like no carbon footprint. no noise pollution, no air pollution, no cost to operate. no cost to maintain it. there are some yes's associated with the snow bully.
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yes, it works. yes, it's patent-pending, yes it's available and yes, we've done a soft launch this year with about 200 units sold and inquiries from 17 foreign nations. we're looking for an ininvestor. to buy 30% of the company for $250,000 for 30%, the funds will be used for marketing, inventory, and development of future tools for the working tool platform. don't let snow bully you, put you snow in its place with the snow bully. >> paul, i have not heard someone put together an elevator pitch together with that salesman presentation. i'm not important, the panel is, let's start with norm. >> well he explained what it was about, but he didn't give us enough to show the valuation of this company, to hit on $1,000, so that would be the first thing i have. he's launched 200 units. for an investment of that kind,
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i'd like to see some more, some possible orders. the other thing is that he didn't tell us if this was patent-protected in any way whatsoever. so if he was successful -- >> patent pending. >> patent pending. if he was successful, can somebody knock this off in a different way. the main concern i have, though, is the valuation of the company. i think it's not worth that valuation. >> you need some numbers to -- >> more numbers. >> how about you, luke. >> i've got to laugh, you've got a strain on a panel. never a shoveled snow on a driveway. i get the product, it looks great. i don't understand shoveling snow in a driveway. i'm going to concentrate on the pitch. i think at least half the pitch because you're looking for an investor has to be on the advantages that are in it for them. i think there's a couple of big things there. one is, what's the brand value that they're going to get a premium for, because i think as norm alluded to, it could be seen as a commodity product if other people could come in and
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do it they're going to want to know. you've got such an emotional story behind the creation of this. i think there are potentials there. the second part is making the advantages really clear to the potential investor, what is really proprietary about this that's going to stop somebody else wanting to do it. they'll want to know that. >> it seems from both of those guys, is what they're looking for is there, you've got the emotion you likely have the numbers, so maybe you start with that and you'll pique people's interests a little faster. the moment of truth, would you take another meeting? >> i would take another meeting with him. but he's got to get the numbers down. numbers run a business and when i put my money up, i'd like get it back. >> okay, luke? >> i'd take another meeting on a driveway with snow, test it out. >> it makes good sense. >> good luck with everything, thank you guys for your advice here and if any of you out there have a product or a service and you want feedback from our elevator pitch panel on your chance of getting doctored
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investors. >> how much money you're trying to raise and what you intend to do with that money, you never know, somebody out there watching the show may be interested in helping you. time now to answer some of your business questions, luke and norm are with us once again. the first one is about someone who wants to franchise their business. >> we're interested in possibly opening up franchises and we don't have any idea about how to go about doing that we'd like to get information on how that is done. >> you know what i find interesting about this question is it's sort of easy to find out where you can go to get people help you franchise. there's a bureau that helps you evaluate whether you're ready to franchise, there's consultants that can ep had you actually identify the
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opportunities, there's plenty of help out there. i think the main thing, for you know the vehicle graphics company and anyone considering this, is are you ready to be a franchise, meaning have you built a brand that other people would be interested in? so i think it's a difference between just thinking about running your business, and thinking about your business as a product. that other people are actually going to want to buy. so it has to be scaleable. you have to have systems in place that other people can replicate really easily. you have to have a brand that other people can see value in. >> you have to be prepared to be the owner of this company that franchises rather than just running your company. >> and in addition there which, have she explored other options with her company. particularly in her industry. there's lots of people that have units throughout the country. and they hook up with other people, so maybe there's a better way for her to do that to expand. so yes, franchising is easy to
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get information from that. you know, but are you rilg to do it, have you exploring every option. >> maybe a great place to start is call someone else who has done it. next question, about how to set your prices. >> small retailers sell both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. how do they best manage the prices between those two channels? >> so one of the ways to find out how to do it, because we don't have enough information about the product, if they're selling retail if they're selling wholesale, about you to go to somebody who does price optmization and find out what's the best thing. you can't compete with yourself. it's too broad a question to answer with a one-sentence answer. >> but do you think, let's just take one idea, do you think it's okay as a small company, to sell things for a different price online or in your store? someone is going to notice? >> i think you have to be careful. because every business has to careful. every business has to evaluate
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where is the growth going to come from? is it going to come from their brick and mortar presence? is it going to come from online? from most businesses, it's probably so if you think you're hiding it by giving a different name to the product or a different company, you're not going to do that. >> that's a good point. if you're doing something, you should be open about it and have a good reason that will get people mad. >> okay. the next question is about how your customers are paying you.
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>> payments like google wallet, isis, will they take off in united states? >> what's your sense? >> you know, so i work at a business school, teach a lot of mbas. every semester, a project comes through with somebody's attacking the wallet because -- and they'll show these pictures of their bulging wallet. everybody hates them. so every student want to come up with an answer to this dilemma. of course it's going to take off. >> 0 years ago, they told us it would be a cashless society. basically, today it is, except in new york. but it's going to be a walletless society. it's just going to take time to do. who is going to survive? i have no idea. but yes, we're going to have that. and the retailers have to start installing the new equipment in their place. it has to be demanded by the customers, but it's going to happen but it's going to happen over a long period of time. >> you guys, thank you so much. really appreciate all of this
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information. and if any of you out there have a question for our experts, all you have to do is go to our website. the address is openforum.com/yourbusiness. once you get there, all you have to do is ask the z the show link to submit a question for our panel. again, that website is openforum.com/yourbusiness. or e-mail us w at yourbusiness@msnbc.com. let's get more great ideaes from small business owners like you. >> i found that you don't have to have a physical office to succeed. we are 100% virtual company and everybody works from their home and we found that we can get some great people who want that flexibility. >> the personal touch goes a very, very long way. in an economy where people are watching every dollar, they want to be appreciated to spending their money in your retail
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business. so one thing all of our associates are always very happy to do is shake hands, remember names. >> well, a suggestion to me when it came time to sell my business was to create on one side of a -- what we're actually selling. what's the business actually is? and on that one side of the popsicle stick, take that around to your friend, your family, your acquaintants, random people on the street and ask, is this something that you would buy? and if they say yes and you get a consistent amount of people saying yes to, then you have something worth selling. >> let's check in on some of the latest small business trends and for that, we turn to twitter. our frequent panelists, alfred edmond jr. of black enterprise magazine tweeted, the future of small biz will be as in present
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and pass, with those two focus on value regardless of industry. i think before you post, how could facebook affect your professional life? and steve straus had an inspirational tweet. this is why we love small business. i took this photo at a plaza cleaners in portland, oregon. as you can see, it's a sign that says if you're unemployed and need an outfit cleaned for an interview, we will clean it for free. a website slowdown or out age is bad for business. if you're looking for a site monitoring system to let you know about a problem as soon as possible, check out our website of the week. site24x7 is a web service that helps track the performance of websites, online applications and servers. put your url into the dialogue box. it will test your site's performance from over 40 locations around the world. if your website crashes, you can get alerts via text,